A deal worth up to a billion dollars and a strategic partnership could soon be signed between Brazilian airline Azul and eVTOL vehicle startup Lilium. The latter company would invest in a new type of air transport network in Brazil with 220 aircraft. The exact details of the agreement are not yet known, but Azul plans to start transporting passengers in Brazil in 2025 with Lilium’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, designed specifically for high cruising speeds, and could sign a contract for 220 of them now, according to the announcement.
The plan is for the aircraft, called Lilium Jet, to be operated by Azul under a jointly created brand name, with the manufacturer providing the back-up support. According to the two companies, Brazil is the ideal place to introduce new solutions designed for shorter journeys because of the country’s large private and business jet market, in addition to the nearly 100 million domestic passengers per year.
Among local airlines, Azul is currently the largest in terms of cities served and number of flights, with extensive experience in serving less frequented airports. In its 13 years of operation, the Brazilian air transport market has doubled, with Azul accounting for almost 60% of the market. Depending on the variant, the Lilium Jet, with 5-7 seats, will allow the airline to serve routes with low capacity and zero local emissions. The aircraft will be based on a unique solution in which several small “electric jet engines” mounted on the wings, which can be turned down 90 degrees, lift the aircraft into the air and accelerate it to high speeds by repositioning the wings.
The manufacturer has already begun preparations for certification and commercialisation of the type in several parts of the world, in Europe and the United States, in partnership with local companies. In Europe, for example, the Luxaviation Group, the world’s largest operator of business jets and helicopters, is the latest partner, with whom it hopes to launch the first flights with paying passengers on board in 2024.